Doctrinal Preaching

Posted: August 13, 2011 in Bible, Church, Discipleship, Pastoral Ministry, Uncategorized

Over the past several weeks, I sensed the Lord wanted me to set aside the sermon series from the gospel of Mark and preach a series of messages on biblical doctrines. After this series, I will return to Mark and pick up the message series with chapter 6.

What I have discovered over the years that many people only see bits and pieces of the Bible, lacking a big picture of how the Scriptures hold together. Theology and doctrine provide that larger vision of the entire Bible. In his book, The Social Animal, David Brooks illustrates the need for a big picture by using an illustration from the game of chess. Brooks said that when a group of highly skilled players and a group of nonplayers were shown a series of chessboards [with chess pieces] for about five to ten seconds each that later, the grandmasters could remember every piece on every board. The average players could only remember about four or five pieces per board.

Why did the chess grandmasters have such an amazing ability to remember the pieces? They did not have superior IQs or better memories. No, Brooks explained that the reason the grandmasters could remember the game boards so well is that after so many years of study, they saw the boards in a different way. When average players saw the boards, they saw a group of individual pieces. When the masters saw the boards, they saw formations. In other words, expertise comes from forming internal connections so that the little pieces of information turn into bigger networked chunks of information.

We don’t learn by merely accumulating facts. Learning occurs by internalizing the relationship between pieces of information. For Christians, theology and doctrine provide the essential “big picture” so we can read Scripture and see not just “individual pieces” of information. Doctrine also enables us to see “the relationship between the pieces of information.”

Last Sunday, I launched this systematic approach with a foundational message dedicated to God’s revelation – particularly through Scripture. This week I will attempt to offer a biblical description of God with a particular emphasis on the doctrine of the Trinity, and next week I will speak on the doctrine of creation. I could actually take several Sundays on each of these subject areas, but in an effort to cover about dozen key doctrines I will over speak on each of them on only one Sunday.

Please don’t get the impression that I believe we can get everything in one message or in a series of messages. No, that will take a lifetime of learning and prayerful study. Nor can I – or anyone other pastor – disciple you in a setting like preaching. That takes an “up-close” kind of relationship, the way Jesus discipled the Twelve. Currently we have some small discipleship groups forming – “Growth Groups.” While Michael Blue will be leading an “open group” on Sundays at six o’clock, several other Growth Groups are forming. These other groups are “closed groups” – meaning that they are limited in enrollment number (no more than 12 in a group) and that you need to begin as a group together (from the first or second meeting time). Three of these groups have already formed and have started. Many of them begin tonight. If you have an interest, come back tonight at six and inquire about one of them.

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